If you operate a coworking space you will understand the key ingredients to success: Harness the value of your coworking community, generate member loyalty, encourage referrals and increase retention.
Here are some ideas on how to do it the best and most sustainable way possible……Organically.
Use The Physical Environment
Have you ever noticed how people waiting in a line tend to look at their phones whereas people waiting side by side, by a bar for example, are more likely to interact? Well, this idea is easy to work into your coworking space. Coffee, possibly the greatest ice breaker of all time, is central to any hub so set up your coffee station in a place that allows people to gather. Design a notice board along the same lines. Position shared and semi private seating so that peripheral version allows passive eye contact. Place a rubiks cube on a common are table and watch what happens.
Set Up A Goal Check-In Group
One morning a week, participating members share their work objectives for the week ahead. On, say Friday morning, those members reconnect and discuss their progress as well as the ups and downs they experienced. This strategy provides a level of accountability which can be lacking when members work solo plus its a great way to introduce new members to the community.
Stay Connected to Past Members
As long as you are adding value each time you engage online your members, many will eventually become your social media ambassadors. When they leave (it happens!), you may be able to retain them as alumni who refer your space to others and reuse your external services such as meeting rooms, event space and virtual offerings.
Get some Know-How into your Space
Part of the reason for joining a coworking space is not only to connect but also to learn. Gaining new skills and insights are an important value proposition for new and existing members. It’s easy to set up and can be a win-win. Try reaching out to a local digital marking agency and ask them if they would like to participate in a 60 minute chat with your members about marketing, or get your accountant in to talk about setting up a business. Entice members to turn up by offering, say, free pizza.
Get to know your members online
Consider following your coworking members on Twitter & adding them to your circles in Google Plus. Keep an eye on their social media activity and engage online where you can by congratulating them on any new milestone their business may have reached, welcoming a new member of staff or re-tweeting them where they have added value in some way, for example if they have published a great article or shared interesting content.
As you’re B2B, your or your center manager could also consider connecting with your coworkers on LinkedIn and don’t be afraid to support them by re-posting and promoting their own content on your own page.
Tip: Twitter allows you to create segmented lists of people you follow which eliminates the need to search your entire timeline for your clients.
Use Member Software
Create your own internal linkedIn for your members and consider “who’s here now” software for the shared space and encourage members to set up their profiles at move in stage. There are many software packages available but the best one we’ve seen so far is Nexudus but you should play around with a few to get the right fit. Search online for “coworking software”. Free trials are available for most of them.
Train Your Community Manager
The optimal time to set a pattern of member behavior for members is at move in. Ensure that your new member is introduced to other members and include a brief summary of what the members does with the introduction. Be sure that new members are aware of events and offer to help set up their online profiles with them at move in.
Partner with the Local Business Community
Uncover local networking events particularly those that touch on enterprise, start up and business growth. These are where your coworking are going to be. Engage with them by taking an interest in their business. Make contact with your Local Authority, Chambers of Commerce and your local Business Network Chapter. You’d be surprised at how they can benefit you. For example, many Local Authorities run regular enterprise programmes designed to get start-ups and small business going and can recommend you once these business need office space.
Consider offering your Local Authority or Business Network Chapter your event space free of charge for a one off event. This is a fantastic way to introduce prospective clients into your business centre and make them aware of you as an office space service provider.Get to know your local lawyers, accountants & tax advisers and suggest an informal referral scheme. Introduce yourself and ask if you can leave some brochures and business cards in their waiting areas. Many of their clients could be clients.